Archive for the ‘Costs of living’ Category

Yesterday, May 1, 2014, a Seattle mayor’s committee approved a phased in $15 an hour minimum wage for all workers in Seattle. The details are complicated by a compromise that included input from businesses and workers’ groups.

The one proposal offered by a business owner is a lower training wage, usually paid for a determinate period of time. The way this is wrong is too many businesses just fire workers at the end of the training period because it is so easy to train new people and take advantage of the lower wage. Sears, which is following Montgomery Wards into oblivion, is famous for doing that to escape paying health benefits in Washington State.
I will grant that any job with a modicum of complexity that takes a good period of time to learn won’t fall prey to this scam. So anyone who isn’t cleaver enough to learn the more complicated job would just have to live with the training wage. Fortunately, this is not a part of the proposal in Seattle and, with vigilance, activists can keep it from happening.

Here is the challenge for activist groups. Don’t waste time trying to get a $15 an hour now. Keep your eyes on the sparrow, and make sure the proposal doesn’t get messed up with bad parts.

Budget Complexities

Posted: April 15, 2013 in Costs of living

Imagine trying to handle a budget when one of your service’s billing department won’t tell you how much and when you have to pay to keep the service from being disconnected. It is that sense of uncertainty that makes your job way too complicated.

This is what I am faced with as I try to juggle my payments to Comcast (which I think is too expensive for what I need) and other more essential expenses… like electricity, rent, water, etc. To call it a conundrum is to add further complexity to the, often untenable task at hand. I thought I had gotten a definitive answer a couple of months ago only to be give a “shot across the bow” the other morning; when I was awakened from a sound sleep to a billing agent for Comcast. She proceeded to warn me of impending disconnection if I didn’t make a payment right away. Trying to maintain some sense of order, I went to my desk planner and tried to revise my budget for the next several weeks. I ended up making a commitment that leaves another, more essential item unpaid. But that wasn’t good enough for her. She demanded more in the following weeks to bring my account current. This is the kind of tactics that make me very angry at this company.

When one comes in contact with the brick wall in an effort to get some relief from the challenges that one has to overcome when trying to keep the wolves from the door one is tempted to try to find the sorry s. o. b. who sets the threshold for who rates help. If one could do that he would want to grab the s. o. b. by the gonads to get his attention and yell “Consider this, m. f., economic realities have changed since you set the maximum income somebody can have to get help! Have you purchased a gallon of milk lately? Everybody wants to look at the cost of gasoline. Well, guess what: the really poor aren’t particularly worried about the cost of gasoline… until the public transportation increases its cost to ride because of the increased cost of the fuel they use to run. The cost to eat, however, is increasing at a rate much greater than fuel or the other items on the cost of living index.”

I am reminded, once again, of my soap box rant about how foolish it is for people to rail against rising gasoline prices; but refuse to park their cars and use public transportation. What really causes me to pause is the realization – which I’ve had before – that as people reduce their driving and take public transportation, gasoline prices will increase even faster because the gas companies would escalate price increases to make up for declining use in order to maintain profits. The result would be unfair cost for those who can not do without using their private automobiles. Also transportation costs for delivering goods we all purchase increase thus adding to the cost of those goods.

However, our arguments for decreasing gas usage are reinforced by: there would ultimately be a force towards alternative sources of energy that might soften the tendency towards spiraling prices. There is also the probability that oil companies will become energy companies to maintain their profits. In that case oil won’t be as much a factor as it would if we were really locked into fossil fuels. As a matter of fact BP (British Petroleum) is already doing this according to advertisements. In their advertisements they use the phrase Beyond Petroleum to signal a move towards diversified energy sources.

Amended on Saturday, June 2, 2007

Recently I heard (or read) that Democrats are pandering to constituents’ yelling about gas prices by calling for investigations and denouncing petroleum companies and their obscene profits. Welll… If one takes a more objective approach and thinks: Just what do you expect in a capitalist society where maximizing profits is the main motive to conducting business? In fact, when I was working for a publicly traded company the CEO conducted talks with each and every person at the corporate headquarters (100 people at a time so as to provide the opportunity to give him feed-back – with guarantee that no recriminations like getting fired will befall anyone who speaks up no matter what they say); and he said that he is obligated by law to do everything he can to maximize profits. This was an apology for riffing most of the vice presidents; but it was also a lesson in corporate economics 101. So, if maximizing profits is mandated by law, then why do we rail against companies who do so? Isn’t it jus so much political b. s.? Shouldn’t we eschew bromides about obscene profits; whether they are about gas or companies?

The fact that we are often reminded that the public aren’t slowing down their driving habits in response to rising gasoline prices should tell us that a lot of alligator tears are being shed about this awful phenomenon.

I saw an article calling John Edwards an ambulance chaser (gasp!). Wouldn’t that be consistent with pandering to a potential electorate that is yelling about gasoline prices and refusing to do anything about it?

I am reminded, once again, of my soap box rant about how foolish it is for people to rail against rising gasoline prices; but refuse to park their cars and use public transportation. What really causes me to pause is the realization – which I’ve had before – that as people reduce their driving and take public transportation, gasoline prices will increase even faster because the gas companies would escalate price increases to make up for declining use in order to maintain profits. The result would be unfair cost for those who can not do without using their private automobiles. Also transportation costs for delivering goods we all purchase increase thus adding to the cost of those goods.However, our arguments for decreasing gas usage are reinforced by: there would ultimately be a force towards alternative sources of energy that might soften the tendency towards spiraling prices. There is also the probably that oil companies will become energy companies to maintain their profits. In that case oil won’t be as much a factor as it would if we were really locked into fossil fuels. As a matter of fact BP (British Petroleum) is already doing this according to advertisements. In their advertisements they use the phrase Beyond Petroleum to signal a move towards diversified energy sources.